Remote Work: How to Prepare Your Business for the Hidden IT Costs

By Holly Dowden | September 27, 2022
Holly is the VP of Marketing at Ntiva, a full service technology company offering managed IT services, IT consulting, cybersecurity solutions and more.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, more than 40% of American employees worked remotely. While this number has dropped over the last two years, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a full return to pre-pandemic numbers. Instead, the “new normal” will probably see some combination of remote and hybrid employees become a staple of the American workforce.

While having a remote workforce offers many advantages to employers, it also has a price. If you’re considering adding remote workers to your team on a permanent basis, just make sure you recognize the hidden technology and IT costs that come along with it.

Here’s what you need to consider.

Your Remote Workforce Still Needs Reliable Technology and Equipment

One of the big arguments in favor of a fully remote workforce is that it will save on overhead. For most companies, paying for office space, desks, and other equipment is a major expense. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could reduce or eliminate those costs by employing people remotely?

Of course it would, but the catch here is that even your remote workforce needs reliable technology and equipment. While employees might have been willing to make do at the start of the pandemic, as remote work becomes the norm, many companies are taking on the expense of upgrading their workers’ equipment.

That could include basics like laptops and monitors, cables and keyboards, printers, headphones, and the other hardware and peripherals necessary for employees to perform their jobs. But it could also include costs like reimbursing employees for home internet and phone service.

While these expenses aren’t necessarily prohibitive, if you’d like to move forward with a remote workforce, they do need to be part of your accounting as you weigh the IT costs of your decision so you aren’t surprised down the line by equipment expenditures you didn’t prepare for.

Your IT Budget for Remote Work Must Include Enhanced Cybersecurity and Cyber Insurance

All the disruption and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was great for one group of people: Cyber attackers. By almost any available measurement, security breaches and other attacks have skyrocketed since the pandemic began.

As Francis Dinha wrote in Forbes, nearly three-quarters of IT workers think that remote employees represent a serious vulnerability for a company’s cybersecurity.

If you’re making the move to a remote workforce, then you have to factor in the IT costs of enhancing your cybersecurity. That may mean paying for your employees to have access to secure VPN networks or paying licensing fees for multifactor authentication software that ensures users are who they say they are.

It may also be time to invest in cyber insurance, which typically covers things like the cost of downtime, legal fees, the cost of data recovery, the cost of identity restoration for affected customers, and more. Although the price of cyber insurance is rising, it’s still considerably less expensive than paying out-of-pocket to deal with the damages that follow a breach.

Some of this may depend on your industry. For example, the health care sector is a frequent target for ransomware attacks.

But no matter what business you’re in, if you’re planning to employ remote workers, then you must factor in the cost of cybersecurity.


Remote Workers Need Supplemental Cybersecurity Training

We’ve talked a lot about cybersecurity from the employer perspective, in terms of technologies and cyber insurance. But top-down solutions don’t fully address these concerns. If you really want to ensure that your organization and employees are protected from digital threats, then you also need to invest in additional cybersecurity training.

Your employees can serve as either your first line of defense against cyberattacks or one of your greatest vulnerabilities!

Take this, for example: One of the most effective ways attackers gain access to your systems and data is by phishing. An attacker sends an email with a malicious link to your employees. one of them clicks, and the next thing you know, your whole network is infected.

In some respects, it’s a numbers game — attackers know that if they send enough emails to enough people, one of them is bound to click on the link. You can drastically reduce those odds, however, by investing in cybersecurity training for your people.

But because remote workers are using their own internet connections, and possibly even their own personal devices, they’re going to need a more robust kind of training to keep your systems safe.

It can’t be one and done, either. To support a remote workforce, you need to invest in continual, up-to-date security trainings to keep everyone safe.


Hidden IT Costs Can Hurt Your Business

If you’re thinking about making remote employees a permanent part of your work force, it might be better to consider it in terms of trade-offs rather than pure cost savings. While some aspects of their employment may be less expensive, there are other areas where you need to invest.

If you’d like a deeper understanding of the particular security risks facing remote workers, or you’d like to take a more proactive approach to IT services and support, we’re ready to help. Contact us today to get started!


Read the Guide to Remote Work Security

Tags: Remote Work